Mind, the toughest prison; Mind, the fullest freedom

Question: We have been told that mind is a prison. How to get rid of this prison?

Speaker: The mind is a prison- is a correct but an incomplete statement. Remember, the mind is limited by the brain, but the mind is not merely brain. What is it beyond the brain?

Listeners (in unison): Intelligence.

Speaker: Yes, and that is not a prison. The mind is surely a prison when intelligence is not in operation. When one is not attentive, then the mind surely becomes a prison; a prison of the past, a prison in which others have enslaved you. But the mind is not a prison when we are acting intelligently.

Somebody has said that, “the mind is both- your best friend and your worst enemy.” The mind is both- your best friend and your worst enemy.

When is it your best friend?

When the same mind is operating intelligently.

And when is it your worst enemy?

When intelligence is switched off.

And when is the intelligence switched off?

Intelligence operates only in an environment of Attention.

Alternately, you could say intelligence only operates in love. When there is no attention, when there is no care or love, then intelligence does not function. And then the mind is your worst enemy. It is a prison, more difficult to break out of than the central jail.

(Everyone smiles)

Once in, you are always in. No windows, no escape doors, no fresh air either. Everything is stale. Everything is coming from past, and to make the matters worse; the prisoners may not even know that it is a prison. When the prisoner knows that he is imprisoned, then he makes some attempt to break out, to get free. But the mind is such a prison, which is full of suffering, but which does not let you know that you are imprisoned.

You feel that, ‘this is my palace; this is not a room in the jail; this is not a cell in the jail, this is my great palace’. ‘And these handcuffs, they are not handcuffs but they are my ornaments’. ‘I am the king over here’. The mind is such a deceptive prison. You do not even know that you are imprisoned. ‘See, I am the king. Look at my ornaments. All these walls are the walls of my mansion, my palace. All these policemen that you see are my personal bodyguards. All the policemen who are patrolling, you know what they are doing? They are securing me. They are my personal bodyguards. I am not the prisoner; I am the king out here’.

And many of us live in this prison and believe that those policemen, who are keeping us in the prison, are actually our bodyguards, are actually my well wishers. In fact, for many of us that is the definition of a well wisher. Somebody who keeps you in a prison is your well wisher. The more somebody wants to imprison you, the more you think, he is your well wisher. And what is your logic? You say, he wants to keep me in prison so that I can be safe. The prisoner, remember, is extremely safe. Is he not? The prisoner in the jail is very-very safe. Is he not? Nothing can happen to him! The bird in the open sky is vulnerable, but the bird in the cage is very very safe; and that is the logic of the prisoner- ‘I will keep you safe and I will keep you imprisoned’. And you start believing that, what imprisons you is something that benefits you. Getting it?

The worse slavery is when the very remembrance of freedom is lost. The worst slavery, worst imprisonment is, when you yourself start asking for slavery, you yourself become an advocate of imprisonment. slaveryThere is a small story. We talked of the bird and the cage, so it reminded me. There was a bird in a cage, a parrot. The bird had been taught to constantly keep uttering the word, ‘Freedom’. So what was the parrot doing all the time? Chirping. What? Freedom… Freedom… Freedom. It is completely en-caged, imprisoned. A young man like you was passing by. He heard the bird and said, ‘Oh my god! The bird is enslaved, she wants to fly free and she is asking for freedom. I must help her’. So what does he do? He goes to the bird and he opens the door of the cage, it is easy. Opening the doors of the cages is not very difficult, when you want to, when you really want to. He opens the door of the cage and he waits for the bird to fly away. But now when the door is open, the bird is not flying away. And what is the bird, the parrot doing? Shouting; Freedom… Freedom… Freedom. Now, because you are young, and energetic, and freedom loving. You say, ‘this bird must gain freedom’. So what do you do? You put your hand inside the cage, and you try to bring the bird out. What does the bird do? She bites your hand like anything. ‘How dare you liberate me? I am so safe inside the cage. My master feeds me twice a day. Once in the morning he feeds me, once in the evening he feeds me. So, he gives me food, he gives me provisions and he also gives me security. How dare you liberate me?’ The bird starts biting and the finger starts bleeding, but you are adamant. You too are young and you have done your HIDP. So, freedom is very dear to you.

(Everyone smiles)

You say, ‘No! Freedom is life. One must be free. So forcibly, you pull the bird out and you make it fly. It goes away.  What is it, it is still chirping? Freedom…Freedom…Freedom. You also walk away. After a while when you return, what do you find?

Listeners (in unison): The bird is back in the cage.

Speaker: And what is the bird saying?

Listeners (in unison): Freedom, Freedom, Freedom.

Speaker: Do you see the prison of the mind? A mind that becomes habituated to slavery, does not want to become free. It does not want to become free because freedom is a little bit of risk. In the open sky, the bird might be attacked. It will have to search for its own food. In the confinement of the prison, food is provided. The bird can just be comfortably languishing. There is the master who gives me food and also takes me to the doctor sometimes. And animals in prison, animals in cages often look better than the wild animals. Because their hair is combed, they are vaccinated; they are provided a good diet. So if you just look at them, en-caged animals might look more attractive than the wild or free animals. But who is really enjoying?

Listeners (in unison): The wild animal.

Speaker: In some animals, the lifespan is more when they are kept in their small cages; when they are domesticated. Then they actually live longer than the wild animals. In the wild, there are many dangers. But who really enjoys life? The animal in the wild or the animal who has been domesticated.

Listeners (in unison): The animal in the wild.

Speaker: But often it happens that even if you let the en-caged animal away, like that bird, it will come back. It will come back to its slavery. We all must find out whether unfortunately it might be true for us. Whether there is something in the mind which imprisons us. There are only two factors that dominate the mind. The jail that we are talking of actually has two entries. Only two policemen who are guarding the gates- one is Past and the second is ‘Others’. One is a slave either to the past or to the others.

What is slavery to the past?

Slavery of the past is, ‘I cannot go beyond my past’. ‘I cannot go beyond my background’. ‘In my family everyone does this, so I will also do this’. ‘Since childhood, I have been conditioned to do this, so I will keep doing this’. This is called slavery of the past.

And what is slavery to the others?

Slavery of the others is, ‘I am not using intelligence’. ‘I am not using my free mind’. ‘I am allowing others to set terms of my life’. ‘Even though I am young and adult and capable, yet others are taking my life decisions’. ‘Others influence me very-very easily’. ‘I feel confused’. ‘In all matters of life, I always have to seek consultation’. ‘I am better-off when somebody else decides it for me’. ‘I follow the crowd’. This is slavery of others.

So, what are two kinds of slavery?

Listeners (in unison): Slavery of past and slavery of others.

Speaker: And these two as we said are the two policemen guarding the jail, guarding the prison of the mind. But the prison is blown away, dynamited by something that you already have. By what?

Listeners (in unison): Intelligence.

Speaker: Yes. Intelligence is such dynamite. It blows away the prison in no time. The moment there is application of intelligence; all these prisons are reduced to dust. We do not even need effort. They are gone. And remember that you all are intelligent. It is just that in some of us, at some moments, the intelligence is awakened. In others, it remains a potentiality. In some of us, the intelligence is very much active. In others, it is sleeping. It is there, it is there with us but it is sleeping. It is sleeping because as we said that intelligence operates in the environment of attention or love.

So, if love is absent, if attention is absent, then intelligence will remain inactive and we will remain prisoners. Those who want to break out of the prison must learn to be attentive, must be very careful to their own life, must see what is happening and see very clearly. And in the moment of seeing, you are no more a prisoner. In the moment of really seeing, you are no more a prisoner. The same mind that is a hell of a prison, will become the heaven of joy; the heaven of freedom. Freedom, that we all deserve! As young people, we all deserve it. It is our birth right. Joy, that we all deserve! Love, that we all deserve! But that cannot come to a prisoner. A prisoner knows no joy, no freedom, no love. All of these is possible only in attention, only when you are watchful, only when you are really awake. Awake, seeing and listening. Then nobody can make a prisoner of you. Even now, nobody can make a prisoner of you; except…

Listeners (in unison): You, yourself.

Speaker: Your own sleep keeps you in prison. The moment you wake up, you are free. Is that clear?

Listeners (in unison): Yes sir.

Speaker: Alright!

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Mind, the toughest prison; Mind, the fullest freedom

Read more related articles :

Article 1 : Freedom from compulsive slavery

Article 2 : The mind is your best friend

Article 3 : Reclaim your mind from the society

2 thoughts on “Mind, the toughest prison; Mind, the fullest freedom

    1. Acharya Prashant (आचार्य प्रशांत) Post author

      There are various opportunities to connect to and meet Acharya Prashant. These are:

      1. Meet the Master:

      Meet the Master program is rare opportunity to meet Acharya Prashant personally, either physically or online. To meet the Master, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Ms. Anoushka Jain: +91-9818585917.

      2. Advait Learning Camps:

      Advait Learning Camps are monthly retreats organized under Acharya Prashant’s guidance. These camps are about spending four days and three nights in the lap of nature, while reading, reflecting, learning and evolving. So far, scores of ALCs have been organised in places like Rishikesh, Mukteshwar, Jim Corbett National Park, Chopta, KainchiDham, etc.
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      3. Course in Realization:

      Course in Realization, a classroom-based learning program led by Acharya Prashant, is an initiative towards disseminating clarity and intelligence in the world. In this course, a rigorous study of a scripture or a saint is undertaken each month.
      To join in, send your application, write to requests@prashantadvait.com or contact: Sh. Apaar: +91-9818591240

      4. Month of Awakening:

      For those who cannot attend sessions physically, the foundation does online streaming of few selected sessions via Skype or Webinar. Known as Month of Awakening, this facility offers live streaming of sessions and helps seekers listen to Acharya-Ji while being where they are.
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      Weekends with Acharya Prashant brings you the unique opportunity for a 2 day 2 night stay with the Master every month at Advait Ashram, Greater Noida. The getaway involves two mystical days of dynamic activities, explorations of the self, sports, meditative reading, deep reflections, midnight walks and more.
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      This reply comes to you from volunteers of PrashantAdvait Foundation who maintain this channel.



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